Bundaberg Areodrome and Bellman Hangar
- Wide Bay-Burnett
Bundaberg Ring Road, Bundaberg 4670
Bundaberg was different to many other WWII airfield locations in that it was one of several EFTS centres. Before the Japanese came into the war the RAAF commenced what became a major Australian contribution to the United Kingdom’s war effort by training pilots and air crew literally by the thousands. This scheme was known as the Empire Air Training Scheme—EATS
Bundaberg was one of the centres in Queensland chosen. It also figured in a further development of the scheme in that No.8 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) was also located there.
The rudiments of bomb aimer training were skills embraced by activities at Bundaberg and to that end a practice bombing range was located south of the airfield adjacent the road leading to Childers and beyond.
This airfield figured strongly in the operation of coastal surveillance aircraft and convoy protection duties. The RAAFs 71 Squadron was one so deployed, be it equipped only with 1930s twin engine Avro Anson fabric covered aircraft.
Such was the importance of this training facility that the airfield came in for the construction of a number of aircraft hideout dispersals. Because of the proximity to obvious suburban area these dispersals adhered to the somewhat regular block street arrangements. The nature of the hideout structures also represented a step in the evolution of their design. In contrast to that introduced by Emil Brizay (create hyperlink to other mentions) these hideouts were able to call on significant standing timber (trees) and utilised stretched steel wire ropes and associated netting, ie netting trimmed obviously with hessian scrim.
As with Rockhampton the main runway at Bundaberg was 'mined' so as to quickly enable explosive disruption of the surface (demolition of a kind) should the enemy advance take place.
At this point in time there may be no record of where such tunnelling under the pavement did take place at Bundaberg, but certainly during the main runway works up-grading at Rockhampton in the 1990s, such 'soft spots' were discovered and traced to such preparation for demolition works at that airfield.
Late in the Second World War, Bundaberg was utilised by elements of the Netherlands East Indies Air Force flying B-25 Mitchell bombers.
In his QAWW2 recollections of boyhood years at Bundaberg, Roger Marks remembers a couple of significant aircraft visits to the town. One was the visit by an Avro Lancaster bomber out from England on a War Bond raising tour and another was a perhaps unscheduled landing of an RAAF 4 engine Sunderland Flying Boat on the town reach. Perhaps the photographs of both these events do survive?
Interestingly, the main 140 deg runway at Bundaberg was not bitumen sealed during WWII - that came after with handover to DCA and the return to a peacetime role as Hinkler Airport.
Roger and Jenny Marks, 'Queensland Airfields WW2—50 Years On'
National Archives of Australia reference